The Vatican last month turned down a request by the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, to meet Pope Benedict XVI, an Italian daily reported Wednesday.
Milan-daily Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's most respected newspapers said Rice had asked to meet Benedict to discuss the situation in the Middle East, but was told the pontiff was on 'holiday'.
In August the pope traditionally escapes Rome's torrid August weather for the cooler temperatures of Castel Gandolfo in the hills south of the Italian capital. During this period he seldom holds meetings with political leaders.
Still, the Corriere said in its report the decision not to grant Rice a meeting appears to "certify" the differences in view between the Holy See and Washington on the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Iran.
Rice did speak on the phone to the Vatican's second highest official, secretary of state Tarciso Bertone when he visited the US recently. The conversation that followed US president George W. Bush's meeting with the pope at the Vatican in June.
But Rice's failure to see the pope according to Corriere is linked to the Vatican's displeasure with Washington for apparently not doing enough to safeguard the rights of religious minorities, including Christians, in the Iraqi constitution.
Also the Vatican, while abhorring Iranian president Mahmoud Ahamadinejad's statements denying the Jewish Holocaust and calling for the destruction of Israel, disagrees with Washington's hard-line stance toward Tehran, the Corriere said.
But another factor in the pope's apparent snubbing of Rice, the Corriere suggests, may be linked to the cold reception she gave the late Pope John Paul II's envoy, Pio Laghi who in March 2003 on the eve of the US-led invasion of Iraq, tried in vain to persuade the Americans to cancel their war plans.
Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2007, 15:39